Everything that we learn and see, the people who surround us, and the toys we played with as children have shaped our identities. You could take one look into a child's toy box and see what his or her interests are. Imagine this: as the little girl or boy you once were, you are walking into the toy store and Mom or Dad tells you that you can pick out one toy, and your face lights up. You make your way to the doll section, and your face falls flat. In 2016 retail stores saw the debut of several new types of dolls, specifically Barbie dolls. For years parents looked at the typical doll and saw a problem with body image for their young children. Barbie was tall, blonde, and perfectly proportioned, but the reality is-- ninety-nine percent of women don’t have a body like this. With a new demographic, constant criticism, and a need for change, Barbie got a makeover. There are now tall, short, and curvy Barbie dolls. New hair and skin colors were also introduced. Now all the problems are fixed, right? Wrong. There are still young girls and boys who walk into the toy shop and have to ask “Why don’t any of these dolls look like me?”
When a child has to ask this question at a young age, insecurities and low self-esteem issues are sure to come along at some point later in life. Mushiya Tshikuka, a Congolese hairstylist, saw this problem and wanted to address it. “I wanted [a doll] that looks like a little beautiful black girl, I wanted to make sure her skin was dark. In our community there are so many dark-skinned girls with self-confidence issues because dark skin is frowned upon. I wanted her to have kinky hair like my daughters’. I wanted to make sure she had a nose that reflects our nose, high cheekbones and full lips.” The first doll in the line is Keleshe, a beautiful eighteen- inch doll with a chocolate brown complexion, kinky- curly hair, and a Kikwembe baby-doll dress. My Natural Doll has been featured on Essence, Black Hair, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Talking with Tami, Allure, and more. You can learn all about Keleshe on runwaycurls.com.